Thursday, June 26, 2008

Migration Season Begins

Migration Season Begins
In summer nomads from across
the country make
their annual migratory trip to cooler pastures.
(Photo by
Reza Moattarian)

Ilam Glory of the Past

Ilam Glory of the Past

Ilam Province is an area with a large number of archeological sites dating back to Bronze and Iron eras. Of course, most of the sites are cemeteries.
The city of Ilam, the provincial capital, is located 710 kilometers from Tehran and surrounded by forest-covered mountains, Press TV reported. It is important to unravel the mysteries of the past and Ilam can be a good evidence for providing a link between the Iranian plateau and Mesopotamia.

Historical evidence shows Ilam, once called Alamto or Alam meaning ’mountains’ or ’the country of sunrise’ in Elamite and Babylonian inscriptions, was an important center in the Elamite civilization.
Cemeteries and burial sites are excellent resources in terms of elucidating the mysteries surrounding the religious and cultural practices of the ancient times. They provide invaluable ethnographical and chronological data about social and economic relations.
While no major research has been undertaken on the prehistoric funerary rites and rituals of the inhabitants of the Iranian plateau, a Belgian study revealed that most of Ilam’s gravesites belonged to nomadic tribes, which settled in the region around the first millennium BC.

Three famous cemeteries
Chenar Graveyard, a site dating back to the first millennium BC and located in the Chenarbash region, contains graves in which the dead were buried in small or large earthenware jars along with their possessions.
Kian-e-Gonbad Graveyard, which archaeological studies suggest dates back to 2500-2600 BC, is located 30 kilometers to the southeast of Ilam.
Pelkeh Kan Graveyard, where numerous artifacts belonging to Stone Age hunters have been discovered, is located in the historical Halilan area. The location of a grave, along with its contents and internal decoration present clear evidence of the concerns and beliefs of the dead and whether the worlds of the living and the dead were regarded as separate and hostile to each other or as part of a continuum.
Historical and anthropological investigations reveal that burial rituals reflect a society’s view of not only the nature of death but also the totality of human existence in relation to the cosmos.
Equipment found in the ancient graves suggests that humans may have always been unable to accept physical death as the end of life and that they believed in an afterlife similar to the one they knew on earth.
Archeologists believe that during a certain period people were buried on the basis of the position of the sun in the sky at the time of their death; if a person died at sunrise or sunset, they were buried facing the east or west, as found in the Iron Age cemetery near Sarab Karzan village in the Shirvan region.

The Sarab Karzan graves are covered with huge gravestones, each weighing one to five tons, which had been placed atop each other in a conical shape without any mortar.
The pile of stones above the graves may have served as a means to keep the dead within, to warn the living that the site belonged to the dead and perhaps as a simple form of remembrance of those buried in their eternal resting place.
The graves in the Poshtkoh region are mostly quadrangular with stone covers and though the bones have not survived due to the acidity of the earth, the sites contain spearheads, earthen vessels, teapots, jewelry and many other revealing artifacts.
Smaller quadrangular graves refer to the fact that children were buried alongside adults.
Up to the third millennium BC (the early to Middle Bronze Age), the dead were usually buried under the familial abode. Fetal burials, the covering of bodies with red ocher (a substitute for blood as the symbol of life) and gifts placed in the grave are characteristics of the funerary rites of this era.
Wealth and social status played an important part in the objects placed in graves; the poor were buried with simple earthen vessels while jewelry was found in the graves of the rich.
The Iron Age is important because it explains the origins of what came to be known as the unique Persian culture.
A survey of gravesite relics from this era shows that the social, cultural, economical and racial structures gradually evolved, leading to the emergence of Monotheism.
Until the end of the Bronze Age, burial rites remained unchanged and the dead who were the subject of affection or reverence continued to be buried within the house or family compounds. However, with the development of urbanism, the old custom was abandoned and cemeteries gained popularity.
As the dead were now viewed as sources of fear and death was thought to contaminate the living, the burial sites, which were seen as belonging to the dead, were built in areas remote from the place of living.
Many cultures had the desire to draw a pronounced line between the world of the living and the dead and tried to hasten their departure by showing kindness to the dead so they would not harm the living.
The modern cemetery could be seen as the continuity of the necropolis (city of the dead) belief.
Burial in the earth is in a way the recognition of the cycle of life and death in which man as part of nature takes part. Humans created from clay would return to the place that had once brought them forth.

June 10 is World Handicraft Day

June 10 is World Handicraft Day

A tribal woman
weaving Kilim, a coarse rug that is used for floor coverings.
Kilim that features
tens of motifs
in several colors
is woven with fine threads of wool or mixture of cotton and wool. Kilim weaving is common among tribal women.

Desert Impact on S. Khorasan Handicraft

Desert Impact on S. Khorasan Handicraft

Southern Khorasan province stretches over an area of more than 95,000 square kilometers. Most of the province is located in Lut Kavir that is 650 meters above sea level. It has mild semi-Saharan to warm Saharan climatic conditions.
The impact of climatic conditions of Lut desert is evident in the handicrafts of Khorasan province.

It has more than 50 tribal zones and more than 2,000 villages in seven townships that has resulted in emergence of more than 48 different types of handicrafts, Fars News Agency reported.
Handicraft of South Khorasan province is influenced by the handicrafts of Afghan, Baluch, Sistan, Yazd and Kerman which is seen in the design patterns of the province.

Artists have been greatly influenced by animals and birds such as gazelle, sheep, dog, camel, cow, donkey, snake, fox, wolf, as well as sparrow and partridge.
Deputy head of South Khorasan Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department for handicrafts said that the wool of the local sheep and livestock is used for weaving.
Hamta Mousavi pointed out that the most important handicrafts of the province are carpets, kelim, pottery and leatherwork.

Rasht, Astara Attractions

Rasht, Astara Attractions

Rasht is the capital of the northern Gilan province, located eight meters above sea-level in the vast expanse of Sefidroud River Delta. It is located 330 kilometers from northwest Tehran , at the end of the main road to the Caspian Sea and on the way to Bandar Anzali from Qazvin province.
Rasht consists of six districts of Central, Khomam, Khoshkebijar, Sangar, Koochesfahan and Lashte Nesha, reported.
It is the gateway to the province and its geographical position is advantageous for facilitating trade and export.
The city enjoys a climate known as ’moderate-Caspian’ that ranges from hot and humid summers to mild winters.
Armenian and Jewish minorities also live in this city.

Past & Present
According to historical sources, Rasht most likely gained importance in the pre-Islamic Sassanid Era, during which the provincial center was transferred from Bieh Pas to Fooman and then Rasht.
Rasht was called Dar-al-Emareh or Dar-al-Marz in the past. The city was the only route for conducting commercial transactions through Anzali Port to Europe and it was a major trading center from the time of King Abbas’s reign up to the end of the Qajar Dynasty.
Caravans stopped for purchasing silk and dispatching their cargoes to Mediterranean ports.

Most of its native people speak Gilaki with the Bieh Pas dialect. They engage in agricultural, fishing, commercial, and industrial activities. However, rice cultivation is the main activity of the villagers.

Tourist Attractions
Buildings in Rasht have a special style of architecture among which buildings near the main square of the city, Shohada Square (former City Hall Sq.), are of cultural and artistic significance.
Rasht Fishmongers’ Bazaar and the Main Market nearby are among the most important shopping centers of Gilan.
Some of the well-known historical and tourist attractions include Kolah Farangi Edifice, City Hall, Rasht Museum, Qadiri House, Rasht National Library, Abrishami’s House, Armenian Church, Lat Caravansary, Gilan Rural Heritage Museum, Tourist House, Qods Park, Mellat Park and Daneshjoo Park.

Religious Sites
Iranians from across the country and the native people of the province make pilgrimage to Khahar Imam Mausoleum, Imamzadeh Hashem (30 km from Rasht), Safi and Haj Samadkhan Mosques, Shrines of Aqa Seyyed Ibrahim & Aqa Seyyed Abbas (Saqarisazan), Dana-ye Ali Shrine (Chomar Sara), Bibi Roqayyeh Shrine (Aliabad) and Mirza Koochak Khan Jangali (Soleyman Darab).

Astara is the northernmost port city of Gilan bordering the Republic of Azerbaijan . The city is the historical village of Gilan known as ’Astarab’ in the past. Because of using a lot of earthen roofs for residential and commercial buildings, it is also known as “the City of Ceramic Roofs “.
Astara Chay River , as the marine border between Iran ’s Astara and that of the Republic of Azerbaijan , flows in the north of the port city and creates spectacular views.
People speak the Azari dialect and are highly cultured and hospitable. Astara Township consists of two districts, namely Central and Lavandvil.
The city thrived in the past. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Russian ex-Soviet states, Astara’s economy and tourism have flourished due to cordial tourism and commercial relations with these states, especially the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Due to its geographical position adjoining the Heiran Pass in a mountainous region, Astara’s mild and humid climate is slightly cooler than other low-lying areas of Gilan province.

Sightseeing Spots
The itinerary of tourists to Astara includes visits to Abbasabad Garden, Heiran Green Area, Kooteh Koomeh and Alidashi spas, Esteel Wetland, Sadaf Seashore Recreational Area, Behesht-e-Kaktoosan (Cactuses Paradise), Lavandvil Waterfall, Tea Garden, Heiran Laq Village, Bibi Yanloo Jungle Park, Javandan Wetland, schools of Shahid Marhaba & Shahid Madani, Lamir Mahalleh Castle and Vaneh Bin Ancient Cemetery.

Religious Sites
People also visit the shrines of Imamzadeh Seyyed Qasem, Imamzadeh Seyyed Ebrahim, Sheikh Tajeddin Mahmoud Khivy and Pir Qotbeddin to offer prayers and seek their hearts’ desire.

Yazd registered Global Heritage Site

A Prize of History

The plan for registration of the historical texture of Yazd as global heritage was approved by provincial officials and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, said Head of Yazd ICHHTO Department Azizollah Seifi.
He added that Yazd governor-general, Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh and ICHHTO both have agreed that Yazd’s case must be sent to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization soon.
“ It must be noted that the large area of the historical texture, the overall conditions of the historical structure and the importance of the city in various eras are parameters that necessitate registration of the city’s old texture,“ CHN quoted him as saying.

He noted that Yazd’s registration case is being finalized.
“Given its area of 743 hectares and that Yazd is the second ancient and historic city in the world, its registration at the international level is a necessity. Many Iranian and foreign tourists visit Yazd every year. Unique houses, the grand mosque, Amir Chaqmaq Complex and ancient markets are among the distinct features of the texture of the city,“ he pointed out.
Seifi emphasized that registration of Yazd as world heritage site will certainly have positive economic and cultural effects and will help boost tourism.

He noted that eight Iranian sites have been registered as global heritage so far and Yazd is the ninth.
The official underlined that presenting innovative renovation plans (in line with the traditional architectural style), paying attention to handicrafts and transforming old houses to traditional hotels as well as renovating historical edifices, especially those which belong to the Qajar and Ilkhanid periods are moves which can improve the overall conditions of the texture.
Yazd is located to the east of Isfahan and south of Kavir-e Lout with a longitude of 54 degrees and 24 minutes and a latitude of 31 degrees and 25 minutes. Its altitude is 1,240 meters. The city is surrounded by mountains in its eastern, southern and northern parts. It is some 608 kilometers from Tehran and is accessible by bus, plane and train.
Yazd has been of great value since ancient times. Today, it is the center of attention of experts of tourism and oriental studies. The city is indeed the country’s economic hub which is located en route to Bandar Abbas and the strategic Persian Gulf.

Golestan is one of the green provinces in northeast Iran

A Tourist Haven
By Sadeq Dehqan
Golestan is one of the green provinces in northeast Iran . Turkmenistan lies on the north and the Caspian Sea to its west.
The capital of the province is Gorgan, which has always been an important city throughout history.

Most parts of the province have mild climatic conditions. However, the Gorgan Plain, due to its proximity to Turkmenistan ’s desert and low altitude, has a semi-arid climate.
Chalouei Shah Kouh is one of the most important summits of the province with a height of 3,750 meters.
The main rangelands are in the Gorgan Plain, which make it suitable for livestock breeding and affiliated industries.
Golestan is one of the economic hubs of the country, especially in agriculture.

Ethnic Diversity
People from different ethnic backgrounds live in this province. Its inhabitants speak languages such as Persian, Mazandarani, Katooli and Turkmani.
The residents of Gorgan mainly speak Persian. Mazandarani is spoken in the western villages and cities (Kordkooy, Bandar Gaz and Nokondeh). People residing near Aliabad speak Katooli while Turkmani is spoken in the eastern and northern regions.
The province of Golestan is host to one of the oldest nomadic tribes of northeastern Iran known as Turkmans who organize horse races in spring and autumn. Races are also held during a wedding, birth of a child and other festive occasions.

Natural Attractions
Golestan National Park is the largest and most attractive the country.
The province has beautiful shores, forests, farms and gardens. It also boasts of natural attractions like mountains, sea, waterfalls, rivers and spas as well as fauna.
Given its ecotourism, historical and cultural attractions, the province has a special status nationwide. Most residents of the province are Shiite, but the residents of Gonbad and Gorgan are mostly Sunni.
Natural attractions of the province include Gomishan Wetland, Miyan-Kaleh Wildlife Refuge, the waterfalls of Lou, Shirabad, Baran Kouh, Ziyarat and Kaboodval, Deland Forest Park, Ashuradeh Island and Jahan-Nama Protected Zone.

Historical Allure
The most important monuments of the province are the Grand Mosque, Mausoleum of Makhtoom Qoli Faragholi, Imamzadeh Roshan, Aqa Qola Bridge, Imamzadeh Noor (Es’haq), the Old Bazaar, Imamzadeh Hendijan, Radkan Tower, Tourang Hill, Gorgan and Gonbad Friday markets, Eskandari Dam, Maran Castle, Shahin Palace, Golshan Mosque, Agha Mohammad Khan Palace, Sardar Seminary, Imam Hassan Askari (AS) Mosque, Darulshafa Theological School, Karim Abshar mosque and theological school and Gorgan Museum.
Souvenirs of the province include jajim, handicrafts, caviar, carpets, Turkman rugs and Posht-e Zik (a delicacy).
Diverse natural and historical attractions along with its residents’ way of life and Turkman traditions make Golestan a tourist haven for all seasons.